10 February 2016

The Vietnam War All Up in My Head

“I keep thinking about all the kids who got wiped out by seventeen years of war movies before coming to Vietnam to get wiped out for good.” From Dispatches by Michael Herr

Reading about Vietnam in Michael Herr’s Dispatches, listening to Hendrix, remembering watching In the Year of the Pig and Hearts and Minds in the last week, both Vietnam War docs. Got the war on my mind. The quagmire. The light at the end of the tunnel that turned out to be machine gun fire, the piles of dead bodies, medicvac, helicopters buzzing and whirling above and the napalm desecrating the skin and the assurances by U.S. Politics of the righteousness of the cause and then more bombs still more and still the North did not quit and “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh the NLF is gonna win.” And they did. And bombs on Laos and Nixon’s lies and Johnson’s lies and The Quiet American and Apocalypse Now and Platoon and The Deer Hunter and body bags and disgrace and throwing away medals and blood, blood everywhere and the stench of death in the fetid pools of jungles and explosions after an innocent leg trips a wire and the draft. Oh man the draft. Sending our boys over and the goddamned stupid domino theory and rape and how the My Lai Massacre was just one of many such travesties and rice paddies and “it’s one two three what are we fightin’ for, don’t ask me I don’t give a damn, next stop is Vietnam!”

My formative years with the war and the rending of the nation and protests and deceit in the background. From pre adolescent through teen years, junior high, high school first two years of college there was that war and I protested and yelled and got tear gassed and became radicalized and watched the news Walter Cronkite telling it like it is and all the pictures and video from the war and arguments about the war. I’d argue if you wanted if you were for. Big question then: are you for or against the war. The fors were just so wrong, so square, so uncool, supporting American imperialism and dead babies. What you racist? You for the establishment? You for the military? You a hawk? Come on man be a dove. Peace. Make love not war. Why would you make war when there is love, the dove, peace and harmony and racial justice and the Panthers and liberation and music. Man. How can you side with LBJ or Nixon or those other bastards? General Westmoreland and John Wayne and Senator Everett Dirksen and Goldwater and the military industrial complex.

Complex. No. Simple. Out.

Buddhist monks self immolating. A different kind of selfie.

Drugs. Drugs and the whole scene went together. Soldiers smoking and dropping, protesters smoking and dropping. People high, very high and some dead.

Read and watch and listen. The stories are heart wrenching. The deaths the maiming the paralyzed. The Vietnamese. We made villains out of them. Gooks, slopes, slant eyes, Victor Charlie. Beaucoup VC. Search and destroy. Patrol. Take that hill. Clear that village. Fire in the hole. Bring in the choppers. The only good….is a dead….Send the B-52s. Bomb them back to the stone age. Savages. Value of human life. Tiger cages and bring home the POWs and Paris Peace Talks and that scum Kissinger and Gulf of Tonkin incident my aching ass. Liar! Terminate with extreme prejudice. Agent Orange. Defoliation. Mining Haiphong Harbor. Bombing hospitals and levees and schools. We were the enemy. We lost and we were the bad guys. America now Amerika. Da Nang and Mekong Delta and Ke Sahn. The Tet offensive. Here come the Chinooks and the Hueys and lock and load boys.

Daniel Berrigan. Daniel Ellsburg. Senators Wayne Morse and Eugene McCarthy and William Fullbright and Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King and those last two names didn’t have to go to Nam to be killed in ’68. The Doors sing:
This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

We could go back to the battle of Dien Bien Phu. 1954, that was it for the French. Adieu. No need to stick around, asses kicked, back home. US in. Advisers. CIA pops in. Ike got us in. JFK took it up a notch but was he going to bail? Was that why he was killed? For sure Johnson brought down his presidency and legacy by going all in and Nixon introduced even more and more and more bombs and added to the big stinking heap of lies that Johnson had made so big and ugly. Lies. No truth for the people. Can’t handle or don’t need or would get righteously pissed if they had.

Vietnam. Get students from there now and want to say: really sorry, I had nothing to do with it, hell I was against it. They were born after it all wrapped up, but still.

So glad we learned and would never again send American troops to a foreign land for vague reasons….Okay so we didn’t learn. The US never will. All that was learned was to stop the draft. Americans wont have that. Draw the line there.

Fascinating. Horrible. Strange and sad and messy and those poor dumb soldiers and those heartless officers and those fucking pilots playing video games dropping bombs that burn and demolish and kill and lay waste.

What a waste. What a wonder. What a blunder. What a history. In here it is rattling around in my brain. Insane.

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